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ANSC20050 Principles of Dairy Production UCD Assignment Example

Dairy production is a process that involves milk extraction from dairy animals and the subsequent processing of that milk into products for human consumption. The main dairy animals used for milk production are cows, goats, and sheep. Dairy production is a significant component of many agricultural economies and is an important source of nutrition for humans.

In this module, we will be discussing the principles of dairy production. First, we will define what dairy production is and then outline the key factors involved in milk production. Finally, we will examine how milk is processed and stored. Students will also gain an understanding of the role that dairy farming plays in the agriculture industry and the economy.

Assignment Activity 1: Demonstrate the key facts about the dairy enterprise and industry and be able to describe the production systems.

Dairy production is the process of collecting milk from cows, goats, or other animals and turning it into dairy products like butter, cheese, and yogurt. Dairy farms usually have a herd of cows that are milked by hand or with machines. The milk is then taken to a dairy plant where it is made into different products. The entire process can be divided into four main steps:

  1. Collection: Milk is collected from the cows twice a day. The milk is pumped from the cow’s udder into a storage tank.
  2. Separation: The cream is separated from the milk in a cream separator. This separates the fat from the skimmed milk. The cream is used to make butter, cheese, and other dairy products.
  3. Processing: The milk is pasteurized and homogenized in a dairy plant. This kills any harmful bacteria and makes the milk smooth.
  4. Packaging: The dairy products are put into containers like cartons, bottles, or cans and shipped to stores.

Milk is processed by removing the cream and then homogenizing and pasteurizing it. The cream is removed by skimming it off the surface of the milk or by using a cream separator. Homogenization is the process of breaking up the fat globules in the milk so that they will not rise to the surface. Pasteurization is the process of heating the milk to a temperature that kills harmful bacteria.

Milk is stored in refrigerated tanks or containers. The milk is cooled to a temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius and then stored in a refrigerated environment. This ensures that the milk will not spoil and that it will be safe for consumption.

The key factors involved in milk production are the dairy animal, feed, management, and environment. The dairy animal is responsible for producing the milk, the feed is responsible for providing the nutrients that the dairy animal needs to produce milk, management is responsible for ensuring that the dairy animal is healthy and well-treated, and the environment is responsible for providing the dairy animal with the necessary resources to produce milk.

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Assignment Activity 2: Explain systems of dairy production in terms of the applications of key principles, concepts, and ideas.

There are three main types of dairy production systems: conventional, organic, and biodynamic.

  • Conventional dairy production is the most common type of dairy production. It is based on the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Cows are usually housed in sheds and are fed a mix of grains and forages.
  • Organic dairy production is based on the use of organic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Cows are usually housed in sheds and are fed a mix of organic grains and forages.
  • Biodynamic dairy production is based on the use of biodynamic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Cows are usually housed in sheds and are fed a mix of biodynamic grains and forages.

The key principles of dairy production are quality, consistency, and efficiency. Quality is the most important principle because it ensures that dairy products are safe and nutritious. Consistency is important because it ensures that the dairy products taste the same every time they are consumed. Efficiency is important because it ensures that dairy products are produced at a low cost.

The key concepts of dairy production are animal welfare, feed management, hygiene, and waste management. Animal welfare is important because it ensures that the cows are treated well and are not subjected to any unnecessary stress. Feed management is important because it ensures that the cows are given the right type of feed and that the feed is stored properly. Hygiene is important because it ensures that the dairy plant is clean and free from harmful bacteria. Waste management is important because it ensures that the dairy plant does not produce any harmful waste products.

The key ideas of dairy production are sustainability, quality, and safety. Sustainability is important because it ensures that dairy products are produced in a way that does not damage the environment. Quality is important because it ensures that dairy products are safe and nutritious. Safety is important because it ensures that dairy products are free from harmful bacteria.

Assignment Activity 3: Analyse systems of production both from the biological/technical and financial perspectives, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations for remedial action as appropriate.

From a biological perspective, dairy production can be an efficient way to produce food. Cows are able to convert grass into milk relatively efficiently, and the milk can then be processed into a wide variety of products that can be consumed by humans. However, there are also environmental concerns associated with dairy production, as cows produce large amounts of methane which contributes to climate change.

From a financial perspective, dairy production is often not very efficient. The high cost of feed and the need for large tracts of land often make it difficult for dairy farmers to turn a profit. Additionally, many people are now choosing to consume plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk, which has led to a decline in the profitability of the dairy industry.

Strengths of large-scale dairy production systems include:

  • ability to produce large quantities of milk
  • efficiency in terms of land and feed utilization
  • ability to use technology to improve animal welfare and milk quality

Weaknesses of large-scale dairy production systems include: 

  • dependence on monoculture (i.e. reliance on a single crop for feed) which can lead to soil degradation and loss of biodiversity
  • impact on local water resources from the large amounts of urine and feces produced by dairy cows
  • potential for increased spread of diseases due to close confinement of cows in barns
  • high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy cows

Recommendations for remedial action include:

  • implementing measures to improve soil quality and reduce erosion
  • using water-efficient irrigation systems
  • encouraging the use of cover crops to provide cow feed variety
  • investing in manure management systems that reduce methane emissions
  • promoting plant-based milk alternatives to cow’s milk.

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Assignment Activity 4: Outline the sources of reliable information relevant to each enterprise, including the role of the Irish research organizations.

The key sources of reliable information for dairy production include scientific journals, government reports, and trade magazines. Scientific journals are a good source of information on the latest research in dairy production, while government reports provide detailed information on the regulation of dairy production. Trade magazines are useful for learning about new technological developments in the dairy industry.

The role of Irish research organizations in dairy production includes conducting scientific research on dairy cow nutrition, breeding, and welfare; developing new technologies for dairy production, and providing information to policy-makers on best practices in dairy farming. Irish research organizations are also involved in international research collaborations, which allows them to share knowledge and best practices with other countries.

Irish research organizations that are relevant to dairy production include Teagasc (the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority) and the Environmental Protection Agency. Teagasc is the main provider of research and advisory services to Irish farmers, while the EPA is responsible for regulating environmental protection in Ireland.

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